Let It Go

Let It Go

John Banville

To forget history, in particular the history of great crimes, can seem both an offence against the dead and an abdication of our duty to ensure that such crimes are not repeated. But if forgetting does an injustice to the past, remembering may well do one to the present.

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The Usual Terror

The Usual Terror

Kevin Stevens

Don De Lillo seems to suggest in his new novel that literature has failed us, failed to correct the inadequacy of language or interrupt the downward curve of history. Yet that implication is denied by the work, not just by the consolation of philosophy but by the joy of his near faultless craft.

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Free Long Looking

Free Long Looking

Thomas Berenato

As a Jesuit novice, Gerard Manley Hopkins once enclosed a feather in a letter to his mother, noting that ‘no one is ever so poor that he is not … owner of the skies and stars and everything wild that is to be found on the earth’. A look costs nothing, even a long look.

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The End

Bridget English

We may well, at bottom, be just ‘frail and vulnerable animals’, but we are more complex than other animals in our approaches to death. We must accept our physical mortality, but as humans we cannot rid ourselves of the desire for consolation or meaning.

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Hadn’t we the Gaiety?

Caitriona Clear

One writer has claimed that the singing of Percy French’s comic songs was once considered by some to be offensive, yet the best-known collection of his work, the ‘Prose, Poems and Parodies’, went into fourteen editions between 1929 and 1962 in a very nationalist Ireland.

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Small is Beautiful

Siniša Malešević

Much of the rhetoric of Irish nationalism focused on the idea of a small nation, oppressed by a larger one. The nationalism of the Balkan states, in contrast, tended to emphasise the idea of ‘greatness’, though in many important senses these were smaller polities than Ireland.

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Which Doll is the Nice One?

Thomas Christie Williams

Empirical research has been employed in pursuit of moral goals, by demonstrating that a cultural practice is harmful to its victims. But should scientific evidence by accorded more weight than moral principles, for example the principle of the equality of all before the law?

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Havens for the Riff-raff

Pádraig Yeates

In the early years of the state, the poor, widowed, orphaned and illegitimate were seen as problem groups that were a drain on scarce resources, a threat to the social order and a disgrace to the nation. They needed policing and, where necessary, confinement.

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Batting for the Other Side

Jim Smyth

The Establishment recruited its members from Eton, Harrow and Winchester and from the ancient universities, Oxford and Cambridge. Its high-flyers staffed the Foreign Office, royal commissions, boards of trustees, the BBC and MI6. And some spied for the Soviet Union.

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Not a Woman’s Place

Bryan Fanning

A classic study of the figures who made independent Ireland has been reprised after more than fifty years. Taken together, the books illustrate the main currents in Irish historiography, while the new volume corrects the earlier one’s hagiographic tone and neglect of women.

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An Obstinate People

Enda O’Doherty

The greatest Jewish crime, for early modern Christians, was the rejection and killing of Christ. But they also had a long list of other faults they found, from physical marks, ugliness and proneness to illness to moral failings such as greed, clannishness and lack of manly courage.

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What Is To Be Done?

Paul O’Mahoney

The philosopher Slavoj Žižek challenges what he sees as a facile left-liberal consensus, asking how many immigrants from Islamic countries really want to be integrated into the norms and practices of Western societies. What if the obstacle to integration is not Western racism?

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Out of the Rut

John Horgan

The 1960s saw Ireland escaping for a few years from the glumness of the previous decade before crisis returned in 1973. It was a happy time to be middle class and young. However, the good times were differentially distributed and not everyone’s memories are happy.

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No Sweat

Michael Hinds

James Joyce and Walter Benjamin worked hard over decades to evolve idiosyncratic methods apt for the city-text they wanted to communicate. But Kenneth Goldsmith’s montage version of New York comes from a culture that no longer attaches value to work, only to product.

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Meet the Folks

Nicola Gordon Bowe

The term ‘Celts’ has been used for 2,500 years and has changed its meaning many times. Though a cultural construct, it continues to strike a chord both nationally and globally among the populations of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and in their diaspora communities around the world.

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Gypsy Dancer

David Blake Knox

Johann Trollman was a gifted athlete who floated like a butterfly through German boxing bouts in the 1930s. But he was a member of the Sinti community, operating in a sport the Nazis considered a forum for the display of essential Aryan values. He could not be allowed to win.

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Not Our Fault

Sean Byrne

A senior official of Ireland’s Department of Finance concludes that all the officials he worked with in the run-up to the country’s economic collapse were dedicated, hard-working and of the highest intellectual ability. If this were the case why did they not see the crisis coming?

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Sad in the Suburbs

Brendan Mac Evilly

Our image of Maeve Brennan is most often of an elegant and sophisticated woman looking very at home in a New York apartment. Her Dublin stories, however, portray frustrated lives in a respectable but constricted world, the middle class suburban world in which she grew up.

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Opening Out

Afric McGlinchey

In a collection of almost sublime purity, Vona Groarke moves from a youthful confidence inspired by love, to a state of ‘chassis’, and finally to a point where she looks outward from the confines of the symbolic house which has served her so often as an image.

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Landscapes of Displaced Desire

Tom Tracey

A debut collection of short stories is fraught in mood, yet maintains a composed tone alongside meticulous description. At times it feels like a contemporary ‘Dubliners’ written for the People’s Republic of Cork, shot through with its author’s impressive ‘descriptive lust’.

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Watching the Moods

Gerard Smyth

Coming just a few years after his ‘Collected Poems’, Macdara Woods’s new collection demonstrates the progression towards a lifelong unitary project; poem adds to poem, book to book. Because of that consistency poems from forty years ago still wear well.

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A Room of her Own

Brenna Katz Clarke

In the Hogarth Press’s series of modern adaptations of Shakespeare, Anne Tyler takes on ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, giving us a twenty-first century fairy tale involving not the defeat of a woman but her acceptance of the different roles and temperaments of men and women.

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Press Button B

A raft of books from the US suggests that as a society we have made a Faustian pact with the tech giants and there is now no getting out of it. But have we really lost all freedom of action? Could we not, individually, just turn off our phones for a few hours and go to the library?

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A Rising Diary

A journal kept during April and May 1916 reflects the experience of the Easter Rising of a professional family who lived in Dublin’s Merrion Square, a comfortable part of south Dublin but one which was in close proximity to some of the fiercest fighting.

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Brexit: 1649 or 1688?

A review of the Brexit debate as reflected in the pages of the Guardian newspaper from May 1st, 2016

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Retooling Utopia

Philip MacCann

One man’s heaven can be another’s hell. Wilde trusted in the state to appropriate the family while HG Wells favoured sterilisation of the infirm, pan-surveillance and micro-management of citizens’ personal data, criss-crossing government departments through pneumatic tubes.

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Response to James Moran

David Barnwell

A reader takes issue with remarks on Donald Trump and his politics included in the essay ‘We Know Nothing’ published in the May issue.

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Red, Pink and Blue

Samuel Freeman in 'The New York Review of Books' finds Roger Scruton’s inclusion of American progressive liberal thinkers in his general denunciation of hard left theorists unconvincing.

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No Plaster Saint

Theo Dorgan

James Connolly’s participation in the 1916 Rising was part of a calculated gamble. Glorifying him as an exponent of physical force politics, however, is a corruption of his beliefs and hopes, a travesty of his analysis, a grotesque and impermissible appropriation.

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On The Money

In the London Review of Books John Lanchester envisages the possible disappearance, facilitated by new secure technologies, of money and banks. Would this be a good thing or would it make it even more difficult than it already is to recycle corporate profits for public goods in the shape of schools, hospitals, roads and police services?

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Unwoven

Brendan Lowe

A sonnet sequence by the poet Micheal O’Siadhail traces his experiences over the two-year period which culminated in his wife’s death from a terrible disease which makes war on human dignity.

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Half The Man

Thomas Fitzgerald

A new biography of Patrick Pearse neglects the important cultural and educational sides of his achievement and fails to build on or even engage with previous studies of the man who is probably the most interesting of the 1916 rebels.

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Getting to Grey

Liam Hennessy

Bipolar disorder has been explained as an attempt to create a world in which everything is either black or white. The illness can only be treated, it is suggested, when the important third element is introduced.

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Astonished at Everything

Peter Sirr

Generosity and largeness of vision seem to meet happily in the poems of Uruguayan-French writer Jules Supervielle, which seem to cover great distances in short spaces.

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All or Nothing

Joschka Fischer

Those Germans who argue so vehemently against a so-called transfer union should realise that the EU has always been such a union. France got the CAP for its large rural economy and Germany the common market for its strong industry. Little has changed since.

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Birds, beasts and flowers

Gerald Dawe

DH Lawrence’s poetry offers a record of the powerful current of physical pleasure, the elusive joy of witnessing that which is different, and the kind of opinionated prickliness when things are not what they seem to be or should be.

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The Stilled World

Nicola Gordon Bowe

Unsentimental, sparing and unspecific, the painter Patrick Pye has sought figurative images to represent symbolically “the archetypes of our humanity” depicted in an alternative universe where expiation has been achieved.

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The Fog Persists

A week has passed and we are no wiser about who exactly was behind Turkey’s attempted coup. This is scarcely surprising as we still don’t know who was behind the country’s previous coups either. One thing, however, is certain: President Erdoğan will use it to further entrench his power.

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Ring-a-ring-a-wrangle

Many of the prescriptions and proscriptions of the Catholic church - in the days when it was able to lay down the law - appeared to make some kind of sense, while others were more mysterious. None more so than the disapproval of long engagements.

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If You Liked This ...

The digital revolution has undoubtedly brought us many benefits and made a lot of things easier, but that does not mean that we should welcome what it has delivered in its more recent phases, or what it might have in store for us in the future.

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Lost without eu

One can strike off on one's own of course, off into the North Atlantic if one wants, but what is one leaving behind? And will it eventually appear that there are a few bits missing here and there?

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Flattering the People

Many British and Irish commentators have commented on the rancorous and perhaps deluded mood of large sections the British electorate. But some prefer to turn their fire on the educated and the cosmopolitan, guilty, it seems, of gross sins of contempt and condescension.

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Au Revoir, Europe

Internationalist British journalist, sixtysomething but not a bad catch, seeks Polish, Italian, French or Irish woman with intellectual interests for quick marriage and happiness ever after in the European dolce vita.

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I do I do I do

A number of cases of bigamy which came before the courts in Edwardian Dublin demonstrate that the crime could be entered upon for a variety of motives, not all ignoble.

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Poems Upstairs: New Poets from the North of Ireland

Readings from poets featured in New Poets from the North of Ireland, edited by Sinéad Morrissey and Stephen Connolly. Wed 1 June, 7pm.

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I’ll Mind Your Money

The wives of many of the Dublin poor received an unexpected bonus during the First World War while their husbands were away at the front in the form of 'separation money'. For many this was the first regular payment they'd ever had. Unfortunately not all of them spent it wisely.

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Ideal Homes

A distant prospect of a life of ease in the Big House is intoxicating to many. Nevertheless, not everything is necessarily as wonderful as it seems and the servants in particular can be a frightful problem.

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Carcanet’s Emerging Poets: Adam Crothers, Caoilinn Hughes and Helen Tookey

Three of Carcanet Press’s finest emerging poets, all distinguished alumnae of Carcanet’s bestselling New Poetries anthology series who have gone on to publish highly successful debut collections. Sat 11 June, 6.30pm.

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The Mob and the Jews

Two years after the opening of the Nazi extermination camps there was widespread anti-Jewish rioting in Britain, resulting in the burning of synagogues, destruction of property and desecration of graveyards.

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Women Won't Wait

Not everyone in Irish political life supported women's suffrage. In fact the idea was strongly opposed by many in the Irish Parliamentary Party and by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Nevertheless, the independent state managed to get in well before the United Kingdom.

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Cakes, Ale and Learning

Lord Byron, exiled after a welter of scandals in England, found Venice a good place to pursue his normal interests of debauchery and adultery. But you can't hack that all the time without taking a rest.

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Suffragette Unionists

It is quite well known that the supposed solidarity felt between the working classes of different nations melted away fairly quickly on the declaration of the First World War. So too, apparently, did English suffragettes' sympathy for the aspiration to Irish independence.

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Don't Call Me That

Our friends the Czechs want us to call their country by a different name. But as all citizens of Ireland, Eire, the Republic, the South and the Twenty-six Counties know, this is not always a simple matter.

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Us And Them

The question of whether Britain should stay in the EU or leave will be settled as a purely transactional one: is it likely to be good for business or not? There is no point in appealing to a European vision for Britain has never had one.

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New Books

Irish Literature

Featuring The Found Voice by Denis Sampson and Even the Daybreak: 35 Years of Salmon Poetry.

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World Literature

Featuring Graham Swift's Mothering Sunday and debut novel What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell.

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Irish History & Politics

Featuring new biographies of Percy French and Daniel Binchy.

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World History & Politics

Featuring a ISIS: A History and a book about Churchill and Ireland.

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Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Patrick Deeley's memoir The Hurley-Maker's Son.

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World Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring The Way We Die Now by Seamus O'Mahony and artist Grayson Perry's book Playing to the Gallery.

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Ireland 1912 - 1922

Featuring a study of welfare and healthcare reform in revolutionary and independent Ireland, The End of the Irish Poor Law?

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More New Books ...